Encouragement = the “Miracle Grow” of Employee Morale


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Complaint after complaint is heard about today’s workforce; they are lazy, spend too much time on social media while on-the-job and they have no work ethic.  Employee morale is at an all-time low.

True or not, it is a fact of business.  Today’s employees; regardless of their social status, geographic makeup or millennial segmentation, face a vastly different work environment that those of 30-40 years ago.

Industry has mostly done away with pensions, profit sharing, matching 401K’s and many of the business perks we have long been accustomed to like employee outings (team building sessions) and Christmas Parties (I’m sorry, they must now be classified as “Holiday Parties”).

But we still expect our employees to be engaged and to work hard, and they should.  Today’s workers are getting paid more than ever…

As reported by statista.com, “Wages and salaries in the United States have increased over the last three decades. Between 1979 and 2010, the median weekly income of full time wage and salary workers grew from 241 to 747 U.S. dollars.”

So why all the long-faces at work, why are our employees so disengaged and less productive?

As statista.com continues, “These numbers are not adjusted for inflation however, as doing so yields a different result. The median weekly income in 2010 constant dollars only increased from 675 to 747 U.S. dollars in the same period.”

Ok, so with the adjusted numbers there is only a slightly higher increase in wages than mentioned before.  Is that the reason for poor employee morale?

“According to the “State of the American Workplace”, a 2013 Gallup study, seven out of 10 workers in the US say they aren’t fully engaged at work, meaning they aren’t working to their fullest potential. The resulting loss of productivity can cost companies between $450-$500 billion a year.  Plus, according to research by the Dale Carnegie Institute, 80 percent of employees who aren’t happy with their supervisors claim that they’re disengaged and ultimately, less productive”, states http://good.co.

How are we expected to compete in today’s business climate and against the global marketplace with numbers like these?  There must be a way to encourage our employees so they feel valued, appreciated and willingly do as needed to the benefit of the business and themselves.

That’s it, encouragement is the key!

Think back to when your children were just learning to walk.  All those times when you were on your hands and knees, arms outstretched and wide-eyed talking to your son or daughter; “come on baby, I know you can do it”.  “Yeah, yeah, that’s it; come on come on, one more step, keep going!  “Good girl, hooray!”

We even do the same with our dog when we teach him to sit or roll over – he gets a snack.  That’s pretty good encouragement and motivation to learn a new trick.

As a result, your daughter, and dog, tried with all their might to do as you asked because of you, your efforts and encouragement.  They didn’t want to let you down, they wanted to please you and make you happy.  And, in the end, they learned a new skill too, how to walk or roll over.  It’s a win-win situation.

That’s what we need to today’s business but we don’t do it.  Where is the encouragement of our employees?

We hire warm bodies with little skill because we wish to keep our payroll costs as low as possible.  We forgo the 2-3 day, or longer, new hire orientation sessions and thrust the newbie into the world of other disengaged employees and expect great performance.  And what about the work conditions?  Those probably are really bad too!

But we still expect our employees to be engaged and to work hard under conditions like this, and to provide GREAT customer service!  Yeah, sure…

Bad leaders beget bad employees.
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Disengaged management breeds the same in our hourly staff.  It’s almost impossible to have any other outcome under these conditions.

The Importance of Engaged Employees

As Dale Carnegie reports, “Today, employee engagement and loyalty are more vital than ever before to an organization’s success and competitive advantage.  Gone are the days when a young person starting out in his or her career joined a company and stayed until retirement – in today’s business environment there are no guarantees.

Experts predict the current turnover rate may rise to 65%. With recruiting costs running approximately 1.5 times annual salary, the ability to engage and retain valuable employees has a significant impact on an organization’s bottom line.  The question for management is how to ensure that the supervisors interact with individuals to generate an engaged workforce.”

A “Workforce Mood Tracker” survey states,” 69 percent of employees said that they’ll work harder for a company that recognizes their achievements.”  So, what are we waiting for?

You don’t offer profit sharing, or a pension.  You don’t pay the highest wage or give many perks. Your employee turnover is not too bad but can be better.  What’s next?

Here’s 12 Ways to Provide Encouragement at Little or No Cost
  • Assign a mentor for each and every new employee, one to turn to for advice, guidance and direction.
  • Provide all written documentation regarding all company policy, procedures, etc.  You can’t expect an employee to know what to do and where to do it without being told.
  • Get a list of all employee birthday’s and send a card on their special day, signed by the executive team
  • Hold an “employee discount sale” where your product or service is offered to all employees at a deeply discounted rate.
  • Scavenger hunt – host periodic, and unannounced, scavenger hunts through your store.  Hide a prize that will be awarded to the employee that finds it.
  • Celebrate your employee milestones or achievements.  Your business is only as good as the employees that work there.
  • Share company news and financial success. Let your employees realize your success is because of them.
  • Let Santa pay a visit to your business – give small gifts to your employees.
  • Have a “Star of the Week” bulletin board highlighting your good employee(s).
  • “Walk the Floor”. Leadership needs to get out of the office and interact with their team daily, assist as needed.
  • Host monthly discussion round tables with employees to monitor engagement.
  • Start an “Idea Box” where anyone can recommend a way to improve on an existing practice or procedure – and really take these into consideration.  If any improvement idea is adopted, broadcast the source of the great idea.

This list can go on forever and it should.

Happy, content & appreciated employees don’t happen by accident
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…only by direct & intentional actions of their leaders.

You must be like a gardener; get the best flowers possible, water and fertilize well, weed and trim-out the bad and always let your light shine bright.

Your business will be amazed at the results!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve DiGioia
Steve uses his 20+ years of experience in the hospitality industry to help companies and their employees improve service, increase morale and provide the experience their customers' desire. Author of "Earn More Tips On Your Very Next Shift...Even If You're a Bad Waiter" and named an "ICMI Top 50 Customer Service Thought Leader" and a "Top Customer Service Influencer" by CCW Digital, Steve continues his original customer service, leadership and management-based writings on his popular blog.


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